Study: Doctors more likely to prescribe opioids as day progresses

Primary care physicians may be more likely to prescribe opioid painkillers later in the day, according to a recently published study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Harvard University.

Using a national source of health records, researchers looked at primary care appointments for patients without a history using opioids who were receiving treatment for their first reported painful condition. 

They looked for an association between the appointment timing, pain treatment decisions and physical therapy referrals.

Researchers found as the day progressed and doctors got more behind schedule, they were more likely to prescribe opioids. This pattern was not seen with referrals for physical therapy or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

U of M Assistant Professor Hannah Neprash, who led the study, plans to next look into whether the time of the appointment also impacts other medical decisions, such as antibiotic prescriptions.